Body Image and COVID-19 Navigating those familiar voices in the midst of quarantine by Angela S. Taylor MA, LPC-S
So here we are. Stuck at home with food and mirrors everywhere, and theyâ€™re coming for us again. Those voices that tell us we should finally lose that weight, our thighs are too big, our stomach is too jiggly, and on and on. Some of us have worked really hard to minimize or get rid of those voices while others of us were already in the midst of a full blown body image crisis.
What a time for issues with our bodies to creep their ugly heads. But it makes sense, right? Itâ€™s the one thing we feel like we can control when everything feels so out of control right now. If we finally get our bodies the way we want them, all of this will feel better. Or will it?
There are so many directions I want to go and things I want you to hear about this, but the main thing Iâ€™d love for you to believe and own is that, your worth and value has absolutely nothing to do with your body. Getting to that perfect size/body will not bring you peace, joy, happiness, success or any of the other things you have tied to it. There will always be farther to go in an unattainable journey to have the â€œperfectâ€ figure, whatever that is (or society deems is the ideal at this moment in time). Your value lies in so much more than the shell youâ€™re living in.
Iâ€™m assuming youâ€™ve heard all of this before. Most of us know these things, logically, but find it difficult to actually believe them internally. How did we get here? Who told us this was the most important thing to pursue? That question is so incredibly layered. From the messages you received from your parents to words from classmates and peers to society in general, all of these unhealthy words and ideas have impacted how you feel about yourself today. But…theyâ€™re wrong. Likely, they were projecting their own unhealthy ideas of themselves onto you, and I am so sorry that you are now having to struggle in the same way they did, or worse. They donâ€™t deserve that power over you, and you owe it to yourself to take that power back. You are worth it.
Your body is a tool that has taken you to great places, helped you accomplish unimaginable things, and moved you from one place to another. It has given birth to babies, created new ideas and brought them to fruition, climbed mountains, accomplished numerous goals, and gotten you out of bed each morning. And now…itâ€™s helping you survive a pandemic that the world has never seen. Be gentle with it – itâ€™s just trying to survive right now. It wants nourishment and movement, but it/you also need extreme kindness. Kindness that youâ€™ve never known. Your body is working extra hard right now to get through the day with a world that is changing before our eyes. Listen to it and what it needs. Itâ€™s an incredible thing that our bodies are walking through right now, and that body deserves so much gratitude.
Thank your body for helping you survive all of this. Thank yourself for continuing to move forward, physically and mentally, in the midst of fear and uncertainty. You couldnâ€™t do that without that body of yours, no matter what shape or size.
Yes, get out and move…because of the way it makes you feel. Pay attention to that. Do you feel less stressed, stronger, more capable, more positive? Listen to that energy and that voice. This is not an effort to lose weight – this is to give yourself those positive, feel good chemicals we all need right now. Your body is craving that and will need it to keep going. But, when you hear that voice saying to keep moving to lose the weight, stop. Go back home, youâ€™ve done the work for the day. Challenge that thought, and praise those legs for moving beneath you. They really are incredible with what they can accomplish.
This is a battle, and I truly feel you and understand that. But itâ€™s a battle worth fighting. My biggest desire is that you love all of you because you are a warrior and have so much more value than I can tell you right now. I am fighting with you on this, and we are all in it together. You are so valuable – do not let those voices deceive you on this. They are wrong, and you deserve to fight back.
If you are struggling with this, please reach out. We are here to help. We also know that eating disorders are being amplified and growing right now, so we want you to know that we are here for you. Our therapists are expertly trained in this area and are ready to talk to you via telehealth. Give us a call when you are ready.